That’s me in 1998. The day before I flew to Japan. I’ve got new boots and a new haircut and I feel like shit because I’m leaving home and it felt a lot like it was a death. My mum took the photo and I know it felt like that for her too. That I was dying in a sense. Going out of reach into the unknown. I didn’t sleep that night. It should have been exciting but I felt dread. Like I was on death row and my execution was at dawn.
In fact it is a photo of a different John-Paul. It is a photo of the John-Paul before Japan, and a full-time job, and travel, and marriage and children. I don’t look at him and regret the changes – far from it – but I must acknowledge them. The John-Paul of 1998 was an infant.
We’re going to Japan tomorrow and I wonder if I will find bits and pieces of my old self there. On the train station platforms and in the shopping arcades. Looking at the sluggish water in the Dotonbori Canal. In the smell of chestnuts roasting and sewage clogging the drains. The glow of the cigarette dispensing machines and the fug of the karaoke booth. Is there a bit of the boy in me that will feel all that again? Like the first time?
The first time again.